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Frankfurt show: Kia reveals full details of Niro

Gap filler: The Niro concept points to a possible B-segment crossover vehicle that would sit below the Sportage in Kia’s line-up.

Niro concept could fill a gap in Kia’s line-up, if it gets the green light


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10 Sep 2013

KIA has revealed its funky Niro concept at the Frankfurt motor show, hinting that it could eventually add the Rio-sized crossover to its expanding model line-up.

If the sleek Niro gets the green light for production, it would site below the Sportage and give Kia ammunition in the burgeoning sub-compact SUV segment against the likes of the Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke, Holden Trax and Renault Capture, among others.

Chief designer at Kia’s Frankfurt studio, Gregory Guillaume, said that while there are no current plans for the vehicle to go into production, the Niro’s appearance at Frankfurt will be used to gauge public reaction and demand.

“It is clear that the B-segment is growing as European motorists seek to downsize but it is equally clear that they refuse to give up individuality and distinctiveness – so Niro explores one avenue to satisfy that desire,” he said.

Measuring in at 4185mm long, 1850mm wide and 1558 high, the Niro’s dimensions are slightly larger than that of the Rio light hatch and not far off the Nissan Juke.

Kia has incorporated some familiar design elements to the chunky Niro, including its ‘tiger nose’ grille, while the bumper houses towing hooks and a number of air-vent holes borrowed from the Provo concept that was unveiled at the Geneva motor show earlier this year.

As previously reported, the Niro features supercar-like ‘butterfly’ doors that swing up high for ease of entry, while external door mirrors feature built-in cameras.

More cameras are built into the rear of the Niro, and the tailgate separates the tail-light cluster, allowing for better light in the cargo area while ensuring other road users can still see the vehicle in the dark.

The ‘Nightfall’ body colour is contrasted with a brushed stainless-steel roof, while triangular shapes feature in the external styling, particularly in the design of aggressive headlights and tail-lights.

The cargo area is made up of a large carbon-fibre-clad deck, and the Niro sits on 225/40R20 tyres matched with 20-inch five-spoke wheels.

Powering the Niro is a version of Kia’s 1.6-litre four-cylinder ‘Gamma’ petrol engine, producing 118kW, and while it drives the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, an electric-hybrid system powered by regenerative braking shoots around 33kW to the rear wheels when extra grip is required.

The two-door, four-seat Niro features similar one-piece moulded front seats to the Provo concept, but this time they are covered in a textured silver quilt-like material, while the rear bench seats fold flat to further expand the carbon-fibre cargo area.

A large screen in the centre stack is home to infotainment functions such as Bluetooth, sat-nav, a compass, altitude display, and a function that records live images from the various cameras mounted on the vehicle.

Two aluminium columns that stretch up from the transmission tunnel to the dashboard house the start/stop button and transmission controls.

The Niro’s cabin also features black leather on the dashboard with anodised chrome and black aluminium flourishes, leather and aluminium trim on the steering wheel and an adjustable pedal box for a more flexible driving position.

Mr Guillaume said buyers are increasingly interested in SUV-like styling when shopping for light or small cars.

“Ten years ago people wanted understated style in the SUV market, but increasingly as more people migrate to the B-segment they are looking for strong character and individuality,” he said.

“We believe Niro is cheekier and even sleeker to show a clear spirited and intrepid character – a car that has the tenacity to deal with any challenge that comes its way.”

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